Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cars and final preparations:

When we first got married, Mrs Skoot had a Datsun 411 purchased new in 1967 . It took us everywhere, even north to Prince George and back and forth to the West coast to Kitimat and Terrace, BC . At that time she worked for the Attorney General's department based in Prince George. It ran so well that I ended up purchasing a new 1970 Datsun 510 which had a grill, sort of like this . . .


At that time I had a job where I had to visit customers in their homes and the company did not want me to have a sporty car so I had to trade in my '67 Mustang Convertible for this 4 door econobox . There was a show & shine hosted by the local 510 club so I had to go . I was hoping to see another car similar to the one we sold many years ago. This is the same colour as the one we had but ours was a 4 door sedan


When we were young one of the things you could do for entertainment was to just keep driving everywhere and that we did. We even drove our Datsun 510 to California for a vacation. We knew nothing about air-conditioning back in 1970 and when we reached Redding, CA it was 117F on the thermometer. We eventually reached Berkeley where we stayed with my Sister-in-law and drove into San Francisco every day to sightsee and walk about. So every day we rode back and forth on the Bay Bridge with the rush hour, up and down the steep hills of SF and drove many times down Lombard Street and all the time feathering the clutch and shifting gears.

We had great memories of that vehicle and thus it was nostalgic to talk to these current owners about their cars . We had a friend who had a Datson 1600 Fairlady sports car


The one on the left is a Datsun 2000. The 1600 is the one on the right . I have always admired these cars but there are few around now. I think rust has taken its toll and I would imagine that parts are a concern.


Things seem to be winding down for the season. I found out that it was the last weekend of the in Richmond, so we had to go. Heavy rain was forecast so we went early. I was looking for a backpack for my big adventure. We are leaving in 4 days and the one I had did not have enough padding for protecting my new Acer netbook. When we arrived we heard the sound of drums


So far so good but soon it started to sprinkle (ie = spitting rain) .


Customers started to huddle under the canopies and many vendors started to put plastic over their merchandise. I have found in previous years that the last weekend of the "market" is the best time to find deals as they would prefer to "cash out" rather than store their stuff until next season, which would be next May. There were discounts to be had; 3 T-shirts for $10. , or my new backpack for $18. (instead of $50.)

Soon it started to rain much harder so we decided to call it a night and head for home



In less than 4 days we are leaving for Vacation and Jack "r" let the cat out of the bag on a recent comment. I was trying to keep you all in suspense. I have never before been "off the continent" , that is if you don't count Vancouver Island, or Hawai'i which technically is separated from the land mass of North America by water.

I also have a dislike for anything to do with needles, but I had to have a couple of shots for Hepatitis A&B. I hear there are sanitary issues with where we are going so it is better to be safe than sorry, and I suppose a needle now will spare much agony later if things don't go well. My arm is still hurting from the first shot and I get the second shot on Friday. A further booster shot will be administered in 6 months which will be effective for up to 20 years.

We were also recommended to take an oral vaccine Dukoral for intestinal problems and Cholera


This package must be kept refrigerated and it is activated by mixing the two parts in 150 ml of liquid and taken immediately. The second dose is taken one week later


The powder in the pouch is mixed in the 150 ml of water. The small vial has to be violently shaken, then added to the liquid and then you drink as soon as possible. This gives you 6 months of prevention. I have a sensitive stomach so purchasing this is a no brainer. You need a prescription from your Doctor and the pharmacy will ask you to hand over $75.


Sanitary conditions should not be taken for granted even in 5 star hotels and our Doctor told us to stay away from street vendors, or any beverages with ice or shaved ice. She (Doctor) also said to stay away from salads or anything that has been washed in their water and consider drinking canned pop instead of bottled water. It would appear that we are not going to be making healthy choices during the next couple of weeks.

Electricity is also a concern as in North America we have 110v 60 cycle power. There we will have to deal with 240v 50 cycle current. I checked all of my chargers and luckily they are worldwide voltage and will autodetect for the correct voltage. We merely require adapters and NOT converting transformers


In an effort to keep things simple I am not bringing my Camcorder, nor my electric shaver or sonicare toothbrush. I purchased battery powered models for this trip. I will use the video mode of my Lumix ZS3 or T2i as a compromise to travel as light as possible but I could not deal with my photos without a netbook to transfer files from my SD cards to portable Hard Drive. I am also bringing my portable DVD writer to backup to DVD. I am only bringing two lenses for my Canon T2i along with a small 270ex flash which also works with my Canon G10. I am also bringing my small Manfrotto tripod which will fit inside my backpack.

During my recent trip to Bend, OR I learned a few things about travelling light. I know I am going to run out of clean clothes but I am prepared to throw stuff away and purchase new, if necessary. In an effort to appear Canadian we are going to wear Canadian Flag pins, I also purchased some new T-shirts with Vancouver logos on them as well as my Haida T-shirt, which are only available on Haida Gwai'i.

(checking out my money belt)

We were told to purchase some local currency before we arrive as Credit Cards are only accepted in the larger stores. So the countdown has started and we are looking forward to cultural shock.

We do not speak the language, we do not know the value of money where we are going and probably would not be able to read the signs, unless they are in English. I do not know whether we will be able to access the Internet, but if I can you can be sure of a photo or two along the way.


In a few days we should be standing on the Great Wall of China . . . I'll be the one waving at you

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Sunday, close to home

This is our last weekend before we leave for our big adventure so it was a planned day to pickup some last minute items. We also wanted to save some time so resorted to fast food in the mall


We were too late for breakfast so settled on Butter Chicken, Curried Chicken, Rice and naan bread instead as a substitute for my regular diet of eggs. Then it was off to a shoe store to check out some walking shoes. It's not that I don't have some shoes that I can walk in but I thought that I should purchase something better with more padding.


This particular pair was a bit too large but nothing that a bit of paper stuffed in the toes won't cure but I settled on a pair of Merrells. I know that we will be spending a lot of time walking during the next couple of weeks. The rest of the day was consumed picking up toiletries, polysporin, tylenol, and hayfever pills. You just never know what you may need and which may not be available in a foreign land.

Soon the day was nearly over and we had planned a family dinner in the Gastown district. While the family was gathering inside a famous Spaghetti Eatery I walked about looking for pictures

With the combination of cobblestone roads and historic buildings it is a popular place for filming movies


I stopped on the crosswalk to take this photo and drew the ire of a passing motorist who was going too fast for the conditions and honking his horn for me to move out of the crosswalk, else he run me over. The motorcycle cop turned his head and shouted at me to get back onto the sidewalk.

(Hotel Europa, Gassy Jack Square, Gastown, Vancouver, BC)

It was still light but I had to go inside as family was waiting. I was thinking to myself that tonight I would be in the perfect place for some more night photos.

Like that Old Codjer in KW I am set in my ways and for the past 40 years have managed to always order the same thing. The meal comes out as expected but the prices increase over time.


This is a combination of Rich Meat Sauce with Mitrah Cheese and the meal includes beverage, salad and spumoni ice cream. It is a great place to bring our grandchildren.

Two hours later we finally finish our meals and head on our separate ways and I get a chance to bring out my tripod

(Water Street & Steam clock)

This is a view facing west towards Harbour Square with a revolving restaurant at the top, and the Steam Clock on the right side.

I decide to change my vantage point a bit closer to the Steam Clock to capture the Cambie Street sign


I walk up the street to look for different vantage points and pass a group of photographers walking the other way. By the time I turn around and walk back to the Steam Clock I noticed this


I wasn't sure what was happening but with all these photographers clicking their shutters and flashing their flashes I had to get in on the action too


I was talking to one of the younger photographers and he said he wanted to improve his model portfolio. It seems that this is an informal group of friends who had brought their own "model" for a location shoot.

For a brief moment I was transformed into a Jack "r" as the model blew a Kiss in my direction


For this type of photography you need fast prime lenses, such as an 85mm f 1.8 and perhaps a two light system with a small flash from the front and a more powerful one from the sides and use a very slow shutter to catch the ambient light behind. For my photos I had to bump up the ISO to 800 and 1600 and shoot wide open


I mention to one of them that they had chosen the wrong side to photograph as it was a one way street and all the headlights from the approaching cars were causing backlight problems, so a few took my advice and now were shooting the other direction and able to catch some tail light streams in the back


With such a large group to please, the model was requested to the other side so the rest of the group could also grab a few pictures


This female photog was the only other person I noticed who brought their tripod


I was actually going to go to another location to capture more night photos but I wasted all my time with this "model", so you will have to wait for next time, sorry . . .


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Last Day of Summer 2010

I don't think we wanted summer to end. There is a chill in the air. It was 8c this morning on my ride to work and I had to zip in my liner. But it's refreshing to be able to ride without the excessive heat we have had during the past two months. Also I notice that there is more traffic on the roads and they are all going at a snails' pace, ie: slow, I mean very slow but eventually I get to work and park in my usual spot outside my window


another thing I notice is the very low sun angle, shining directly from the front which means you are riding blind and cannot see the oncoming traffic so this is when I like to tuck in behind another vehicle, for protection.

The official time of the autumnal equinox in Vancouver is 8:09pm (September 22) so I thought that I would venture downtown to grab another night shot and sort of aim for 8pm. Well, I got there a little early and it was getting dark and the light was fading fast so I had to shoot now. I rushed, set up my tripod and here is what I ended up with

(Inukshuk at English Bay, Vancouver, BC)
Canon T2i, Tamron SP 17-50 DiII Aspherical, F20 30s ISO 100

I just purchased this "new to me" lens from Craigslist last week. I wanted a higher quality lens to take on my big adventure in 2 weeks, thus the reason for getting used to my new camera and practicing my night shooting technique. This is also a new camera which I purchased a couple of weeks ago. I am really a Nikon person but my D80 is getting old and the newly announced D7000 won't be in the stores before I leave so I had to make a quick decision. I like the idea of being able to shoot full 1080HD with this camera so I can travel lighter by not having to take my Camcorder and another charger. I wanted something with a larger sensor and less crammed pixel density. I will also be bringing my Canon G10 as backup for times where I wish to be in stealth mode.

A few days earlier I was down in False Creek looking for night scenes and this was taken with the 18-55 IS kit lens. If you stop it down it is quite acceptable but it is mainly constructed with plastic and has less internal light shielding, plus being variable aperature, it is slow

(Cambie Bridge, south side False Creek, Vancouver, BC)
Canon T2i 18-55is kit lens: F16 30s ISO 100 approx 21mm

Here is another image taken with the same lens from underneath the Cambie Bridge

Canon T2i 18-55 is kit lens: F16 30s ISO 100

I also wanted to test my telephoto lens to get an idea of what it could do. It was not really dark yet so I attached my ND4, neutral density filter so I could slow down the shutter speed. I wanted to get the compression effect with the signal lights. I positioned my tripod at 10th avenue, near Broadway and shot north towards downtown. The bridge starts at about 5th Avenue so you can see that I was far away from the action

Canon T2i 55-250 is Kit lens: F32 25s ISO 100 @ 250mm

and finally, here is the full image from which the header was cropped. It was still very bright so a ND4 neutral density filter was attached. (ND4 = + 4 F stops of light)

Canon T2i 55-250 is kit lens: F22 5s ISO 100 @ 180mm ND4 filter

Lately I've been anxious for the sun to go down so I can go out with my camera and "make some pictures"

Sunday, September 19, 2010

2nd Annual Gastown Blues & Chili Festival

Gastown is the birthplace of Vancouver. It is now a tourist district along the waterfront where the early pioneers set up their tents and lit up the night sky with their gas laterns. This weekend they closed the street for the 2nd Annual Chili cookoff.


There was a competition between 20 restaurants and a panel of judges to determine who prepared the best Chili, along with a peoples' choice award


All were invited to try out the chili and of course we had to buy some tickets, proceeds of which went towards a needy cause . They also had a stage on site with live Blues entertainment playing continuously all afternoon by popular local musicians.


Every vendor had a different forumula for their signature chili and many chose to wear colourful costumes


Of course you had to first walk around and look into their pots to see their brew before making your decision


Since this was an event organized by the local Gastown community all the restaurants are from this part of town . It is a way to draw more people into the area to boost their sales.


I always thought chili was prepared with beef (ground hamburger), but today you could have tasted bison, Camel, boar, pulled pork or chicken along with dozens of different types of beans and topped with anything fron cilantro to cheese.


Did I mention that there was live music on the stage all afternoon. It was great to snag a chair and just enjoy the afternoon listening to music while eating chili, and of course, taking a few pictures and lots of video


here we are speaking to one of the chefs. He actually gave us a rundown of how his chili was prepared and I must say that it was delicious


it was so good that I have to show it to you before it is gone forever


most of the restaurants have a sign displaying the main ingredients. This one used smoked turkey, Boar and Bacon


and here it is simmering on the hotplate


by mid-afternoon some were running out of their chili so it was a lucky thing we arrived earlier than we had planned.


needless to say we had to try some of this and it was very good


the music was great . The musician on the left was a master on his guitar or modifified hawai'ian type guitar (James Roy). The person on the keyboard (Mike Van Eyes) has a style very similar to Jerry Lee Lewis and could really tickle those keys.


I don't know what happened but in no time at all we were down to only one ticket left. Lucky we saved it for the judges' decision. The winner of the best chili was Rogue so of course we had to get a sample and spent our last ticket


and it didn't last long. Now you see it and . . .


now it's gone.